Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)

Square Enix have YET AGAIN returned to Midgar to fill our heads with stories of Cloud and Septiroth and Aerith. I lend my thoughts towards it gladly…
Read my review over at Square Go

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Seeing that Final Fantasy: VII is generally regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, it’s not surprising that devlopers Square Enix can’t stop themselves from relentlessly diving back into the story from every angle possible. But with a CGI movie, an anime and a whole set of prequels and sequels already out, you’d think the story is pretty much covered. Not so! The latest prequel, Crisis Core, is the release that tries hardest to be an accessible story to newcomers while also managing to fill in umpteen plot holes from the original game.

It covers the story of Zack Fair, a 2nd class SOLDIER recruit in the Shinra corporation, a shady government organization fronted as a power company. He’s a likable, if arrogant, young buck with lofty ambitions and a whole lot of naivity to boot. Through him we experience the strange events surrounding the rebellion of 1st class SOLDIER hero Genesis. None of this will be news to anyone who has played the original game, but Crisis Core also makes for a compelling tale in its own right, padding out the game story with sumptuously rendered CGI sequences that are every bit as good as Hollywood.

The game itself is a combination of exploration and combat. Eschewing the turn-based fights of old, Crisis instead has more of an action style, letting you duck and weave through your enemies, hacking and slashing away, while casting “Materia” spells at them. The RPG side of things still exists as you’re only able to deflect blows or dodge if you have enough action points. Adding confusion to the mix is a seemingly random slot machine-ish thing called a DMW, which twirls constantly onscreen, occasionally halting and giving bonuses when you get matching character symbols. Bizarrely, the DMW can’t be controlled in any way, and distracts far more more than it helps.

Most of the combat is fun, but the frequent sudden encounters mean that the game gets repetitive on large maps. Presumably to help prevent intense boredom, each save point lets you access a menu full of extra missions. They are varied enough to keep things from dragging at the slower points in the story, as well as providing a welcome stats boost. So if a badguy is too hard to beat, play a couple of side-missions and then come back more powerful. There is also a fully customisable selection of weapons and Materia to fiddle with until you get the best combinations for your playing style.

Despite having a good combat system and the fact the plot will have fanboys drooling onto their Aerith-print pyjamas, there are a few problems. The most obvious is that the game is mainly limited to fighting and wandering around aimlessly. That’s hardly a surprise, but after twenty fights in a row within ten minutes, it starts to drag on, especially when the enemies just appear out of thin air. It also has some of the worst load times on the PSP, with black screens lasting between five and ten seconds before the loading screen even appears. These are, however, fairly minor once you get embroilled in the story, and otherwise this is a top notch game and a worthy entrant to the series.


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